Spa towns like Malvern, Bath and Droitwich have always attracted visitors in their droves, keen to drink or bathe in the waters as a cure for their ills.
Even smaller enterprises, like the spring of St Kenelm’s in Romsley, near Halesowen, have their fans, as people still seek it out for its reputed healing properties.
St Kenelm himself was a young king of Mercia from the 8th/9th century. The legend has it that he was martyred as a boy on the instructions of his ambitious sister Quendryda so that she might be queen.
Young Kenelm supposedly had a prophetic dream of his death the night before he was murdered by his tutor, his sister’s lover, on a hunting trip and buried under a thicket.
When his body was discovered and dug up to be moved to the Abbey at Winchcombe, water sprang forth and flowed into a stream, or so the legend goes.
The true story of St Kenelm seems to be rather less miraculous. Historical records show that he was a king in 798, at around the age of 12. So he was not murdered as a child but is thought to have died later, fighting the Welsh. It seems true, however, that he did not succeed his father. Instead his uncle became king.
Nevertheless, the cult of St Kenelm grew and he is even mentioned by Chaucer in the Nun’s Priest’s Tale of the Canterbury Tales, during a passage on prophetic dreams.
Nestling in the Clent Hills, St Kenelm’s Church stands on the reputed site of the St Kenelm’s martyrdom and has been welcoming pilgrims for centuries.
For many years, villagers celebrated St Kenelm’s Day on July 17 with a village fair and the ancient custom of “crabbing the parson” – pelting the unfortunate cleric with crab apples.
St Kenelm’s Hall in Romsley was named after the short-lived king, though it was built a thousand years after he died, in the 19th century.
He is remembered in a stained glass window on the staircase which shows pictures of him and his other sister, Burgenhilda.
The handsome red brick residence dates from around 1880 and stands in mature grounds.
It has its own spa, although it is the modern Jacuzzi kind that sits next to the swimming pool, its water rather more relaxing than healing.
The house has beautiful Victorian features right from the start with a splendid front entrance portico with a flagstone floor and fitted seats. Double panelled doors lead into a vestibule with Victorian Minton tiled floor. Beyond here the reception hall has another stunning floor, this one black and white tiled. The fact there is not one but two staircases in the hall hints at the size of the house.
The dining room has a moulded ceiling rose and decorative relief, plus an impressive open fireplace.
There are more period features in the drawing room which is 36 feet long. It has plasterwork to the ceiling, window shutters, a fine fireplace and a side bay.
Space to play is an important part of St Kenelm’s. A billiards room can easily accommodate a full size snooker table. It has a polished timber floor, full height bookcases and panelled storage cupboards.
In the kitchen/breakfast room there is flecked granite flooring and moulded ceiling cornice. Fitted units are topped by granite work surfaces. In addition to the Aga, appliances include a ceramic hob, extractor hood, electric ovens, dishwasher, refrigerator and freezer. Double French doors lead onto the terrace.
An intimate sitting room/snug lies just off the kitchen, as does a good sized playroom or study. A conservatory has two sets of French doors leading to the surrounding terrace.
Other rooms include a formal cloakroom, separate toilet and a utility room.
A new addition to the house is a splendid leisure complex with a swimming pool and a circular whirlpool spa bath. A hexagonal conservatory at the end of this room provides a lovely spot for lounging in the sun. French doors open to the decked terrace.
Other facilities include a Tylo sauna and a changing room/toilet.
The first floor of St. Kenelm’s Hall is accessed by the two staircases which lead to the large central landing.
Upstairs there are five double bedrooms, many of them with wardrobes.
Three of the bedrooms have en suite bath or shower rooms and there is a recently fitted family bathroom.
Outside, wrought iron gates between tall brick pillars open to a tarmacadam driveway and turning/parking area in front of the house.
On the south side of the property, an extensive lawn is interspersed with a variety of trees and bordered by established shrubberies.
A pathway leads through a pretty lychgate entrance and archway to some brick stores and an octagonal terrace with barbecue area .
Lawns are flanked by mature rhododendrons and carefully clipped yew hedges.
Further areas of lawn and well stocked shrubberies continue on the west side of the house around the pool room which has a deck outside and a garden store.
St Kenelm’s Hall is in a rural position on the slopes of the Clent Hills about one mile from Romsley village and one and a half miles from Clent.
The famous hills offer great scope for walking and riding with much of the area under the control of The National Trust.
The house stands in an elevated position above Uffmoor Wood, a Nature Reserve cared for by The Woodland Trust.
There are far reaching views over the countryside and the lights of the West Midlands provide a glittering backdrop at night. Hagley lies about three miles away and provides good everyday shopping facilities and schooling. Birmingham is only 11 miles away.
AGENT: Fisher German
TEL: 01527 575525
GUIDE PRICE: £1,350,000